Two Poems

by Diane Lockward

We Were Such a Fine Plum Pudding

Temptation it is
to read your spread palm,
the abbreviated lifeline and bad fortune,
as palm to palm we are no more,
nor plum to plum.

Such a fine pudding we made,
the long slow steam to perfection,
the struck match, the two of us drenched
in cognac and served in a blaze.
And oh! the very texture of us,
so dark we were almost black,
and dear God! so sinfully rich,
currants inside us plump and sweet,
and clotted cream like a moat around the base.

Yet the proof was in us—
at the heart, not a coin hidden, but a snake coiled.
The old story again—paradise at hand,
a man, a woman, a fruited tree,
only plum this time, perhaps for variety,
or so we thought—in truth, merely the illusion
of plums, our pudding misnamed and false,
overbaked and ruined—
my moist plum dried up, your poor plum
shriveled, a plumless pudding after all.

The Gift of a Rat

A broken creature at my feet       dropped
by the predatory cat who’d stalked him
and quietly crouched      stationary as a bush

her whiskers stiff       her pink tongue saltier
as she bided until the rat was deep into his
cheese      a chunk nudged from trash      balm

to nights of hunger when hunger hurts most
his front paws clutching the bright cheddar
and twitching with desire      he sniffs it again

and again      petite kisses      playful and eager
whiskers washed       now dusted with cheese
as he nibbles and nibbles      and in that moment

of rapture      the cat begins to move      one foot
in front of the other      seamlessly      like a time
lapse film      and she pounces      grabs the rat

by his neck      sinks in her teeth      and though
he struggles      she won’t let go      impales him
with her claws and punctures again and again

until the rat goes limp     tail dangling like a worm
the cheese      his last supper      left unfinished
and the cat releases her grip      nibbles the cheese

slowly      one lick at a time      this precious treasure
this topaz      this nugget of gold      and she nibbles
until her hunger is appeased       stuffs the rat

into the small purse of her mouth      carries it home
her trophy      her gift      her declaration of love
and drops it at my feet      Even in this there is beauty
Photo credit

About Diane Lockward

Diane Lockward is the author of The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop (Wind Publications, 2013) and three poetry books, most recently Temptation by Water. Her previous books are What Feeds Us, which received the 2006 Quentin R. Howard Poetry Prize, and Eve's Red Dress. Her poems have been included in such journals as Harvard Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, and Prairie Schooner. Her work has also been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, Gwarlingo, and The Writer’s Almanac. She lives in NJ where she runs two annual events: Girl Talk: A Poetry Reading in Celebration of Women’s History Month and the West Caldwell Poetry Festival.

Diane Lockward

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